Airplane baggage fun at the airport

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Posted on 12th February 2010 by Ben Krasner in Day to Day Goodies

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Flying to Fort Myers for a get away, we ran into some good times at the curbside check in. We like to fly Continental Airlines – the biggest carrier flying out of Cleveland Hopkins Airport – and we thought we had prepared ourselves properly for another smooth flight out with regards to baggage and security – at least as smooth as can be expected given the current conditions you have to go through to get on a plane anymore (all of which I’m perfectly fine with, by the way). Continental’s baggage rules are essentially that baggage has to be under 50 lbs and less than 62 linear inches in girth. The 50 lb weight threshold is easy enough to work with but, as we found out, the girth measurement is a little more interesting.

We had to take the largest piece of “baggage” we’ve ever wanted to take with us on a plane (and likely that we ever will) – our tailgate barbeque grill. Natalie’s father requested it after we found a replacement grill for the red one that we have used for years (come on… you cannot tailgate at Michigan games using a red grill!) so they could grill at their condo. To do so, we measures the box that the new Blue grill was in because they are almost precisely the same grill and do share the same physical dimensions. It came out to be 61 inches, so we packed her up and were confident that we were good to go. We then checked in online so we could simply check the baggage in at the curb to save time – little did we know the fun that would unfold when we got there.

The moment we arrived our box was getting the critical eye – we assumed that this was because it was a grill, which could either cause just general interest or possibly security interest (“uh… Is there propane in there buddy?”). It couldn’t be the dimensions because we were sure our measurements were correct. Nope – out came the measuring tape and I noticed him measuring it differently than the method we had used, which imediately got me concerned. Sure enough the man says (paraphrasing), “oooh this is measuring over 65 inches… I can let an inch or so go by, but I can’t go this big anymore with the enforcement of the rules the way it is these days.”

Wow… instantly my thoughts focused on what this was going to cost us, which would have ended up being $100 rather than the $27 it was slated for. Spending $73 more for a grill that costs $149 NEW wasn’t a nice thought, but we’re at the airport already. How would we even get back to the car, which was parked at the shuttle, to put it back and yet still get back to the terminal and gate in time to make our flight? And, since that was in doubt, there was definitely no way we were going to get that thing to UPS to ship it down.

Quickly getting into the mix of things, the man took it upon himself to figure out if there was any way to shave the package dimensions down the two-plus inches we needed to make the proper size restrictions. We worked on that thing for at least 15 minutues – on hands and knees, cardboard and tape everywhere, two trials. First, took everything out, packed it back in without the styrofoam caps; that gave us some room, but not enough. Take it all back out, take out the bottom foam base (so now NO protection other than the cardboard box … Thank god this was a direct flight) put it all back in, cut down the box, tape it down and “… under 61 inches, you’re good to go!” Yes!

Somewhere there’s a security tape getting uploaded to YouTube… At least I hope there is. The tape job alone was impressive since there were no defined corners to the box anymore. We were completely monopolizing the curb-side check in for a lenghty period of time and definitely fretting the time ticking by – though we ended up having plenty because we arrived early. Plus, what a sight! Two of us trying so desperately to get a tailgate grill on a plane… Fun times.

The sky captain’s name at the continental curb-side check in was Marrion Demore and let me say he was a great help to us this afternoon. He worked hands on to save us $73 when he could have easily looked at this heavily sealed up oversize box we had with us and just said, “sorry, that’s $100 folks…”.

Thankfully he didn’t. We definitely tipped him – hey, he saved us $73. He deserved a piece of that! – and I have his card: he told us to call him before our next flight out. I definitely will, only I hope to not have to put him through so much effort to get two people on that plane.

We’re on the flight to Fort Myers right now with all baggage on board. If you’re reading this, Marrion, THANK YOU… Again. You were a huge help. And we hope to see it gliding on baggage claim in good condition shortly.